July 26, 2010 Program at Los Angeles City Hall: Empowering People With Disabilities

On July 26, 2010, PREVENT HATE, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles, will hold a public demonstration at Los Angeles City Hall on behalf of our joint training program to empower people with disabilities. The program will utilize labor from people with disabilities to build emergency housing in just one day in order to dispel bias against them, and to promote methods of self-sufficiency. This is part of a larger program at Los Angeles City Hall in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

PREVENT HATE continues to bring much needed, innovative programming to marginalized and disadvantaged populations. Thank you so much for your continued support.

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Transcript of PREVENT HATE Twitter Chat with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity

PREVENT HATE is beginning to offer the general public access to various leaders, movers, and shakers globally in order for all of you to gain additional insight as to what is happening throughout the world, and how you can get involved making your own communities better for all its inhabitants. Part of this is through our Twitter account by hosting chats with various officials so that you can make your voices heard, and have your questions answered.

On September 15, 2009, PREVENT HATE hosted a Twitter chat with John Trasviña, the United States Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. The full transcript of the chat is as follows.

10:01 AM We are beginning our chat with the US Asst. of Fair Housing, John Trasvina. Welcome Assistant Secretary!

 
10:01 AM For the next hour, our Tweets will be from the US Assistant Secretary … Begin now
 
10:02 AM I am happy to be with you in Los Angeles and across the country
 

10:04 AM Q1) Section 3 requires low income people to get job training, but what about about people with disabilities who can’t work?

 

10:06 AM A1) Just b/c someone has a disability does not disqualify him/her from work and the point of Sec. 3 is to promote job options for low income

 

10:07 AM Not options … job opportunities for low income

 
10:08 AM Does housing law extend to the #LGBT community?
 
10:09 AM A2) Currently does not cover GLBT. We are looking at the experiences in the 22 states and DC where such discrimination is illegal.
 
10:10 AM A2 cont’d) In CA you can go to dfeh.ca.gov for more info.

 

10:11 AM  @Najia7 @WyreDragon Please go ahead
 
10:16 AM Q3) Are you aware that there increase in homeless female veterans who have PTSD from rape by other military colleagues?
 
10:17 AM A3) VA and HUD together Sec. Shiseki and Sec. Donavan are collaborating on programs to support homeless vets. DHHS SAMSA has trauma network.
 

10:18 AM @Najia7 Does your dept focus on green building/improve indoor air quality/saving energy/creating jobs with #SOLAR public housing?

 

10:19 AM in reply to Najia7 We focus on sustainable communities. Some focus is on energy innovation w/in home and making sure transportation and housing are in synch

 
10:20 AM @WyreDragon What actions are being taken to prevent predatory lending practices?
 
10:21 AM in reply to WyreDragon HUD focuses on making homes affordable, which means we try to keep ppl in homes and prevent forclosures, and help modify their situations
 

10:22 AM 61% of ppl who had subprime mortgages qualified for traditional loans and did not have to be in the situation they now find themselves in

 

10:22 AM Go to makinghomeaffordable.gov for more info.

 
10:23 AM @Najia7 how about mobilizing communities with diverse groups to work together on green housing projects to release possible tensions?
 

10:24 AM We all have a stake & role in doing that. I will be speaking to a group later this wk – Building One America – which revitalizes communities

 
10:27 AM Q4) How can someone who is currently homeless get into public housing?

 

10:28 AM A4) They should go to local housing authority to see if they qualify for Sec. 8 voucher. There are local programs and types of assistance.
 
10:29 AM Also, you can go to hud.gov to learn about various types of programs and assistance available for homeless individuals and families.

 

10:30 AM Q5) Is all public housing ADA compliant?
 
10:32 AM A5) Accessibility to housing is protected by the Amer. w Disabilities act. Also …
 

10:33 AM Our off. enforces Sec. 504 of Rehab Act & 1988’s Fair Housing amendments, which ensures access to units of 4+ unit buildings built after ’91

 

10:36 AM Q6) The LA Riots of 1991 were based on bad lending, by allowing immigrants to get loans more easily than locals. Any comment?

 

10:38 AM A6) I disagree with the premise that this is what happened. African-Americans and immigrants both have been victimized by predatory lending

 

10:39 AM Q7) Does preventing discrimination based on sex include people who have changed their sex medically?

 
10:40 AM A7) If one can prove that discrimination is against sex, then yes If based on sexual orientation, more likely covered by state or local laws
 
10:41 AM One of most compelling arguments to expand the law is research that many LGBT people have to hide their identity to get a home.
 

10:42 AM Nobody should have to hide their identity in USA

 

10:43 AM Q8) What would it take to have sexual orientation to be covered as a category that cannot be discriminated against?

 
10:44 AM A8) It would take a bill approved by Congress and signed by the President
 

10:45 AM Q9) Why don’t people have to speak English to get federal funds and public housing?

 
10:47 AM A9) The protection of Constitution extends to all who speak other languages as well as those born with English on the tongue — Meyer vs. NE
 
10:47 AM Meyer vs. Nebraska is the case
 

10:48 AM Q10) Does your office work with community groups to provide services and programs in public housing?

 

10:49 AM A10) We focus on fair housing. Yes we work with community grps and offer funding to prevent discrimination in housing

 

10:50 AM Q11) Does your office consider AIDS related discrimination as disability discrimination?

 

10:51 AM A11) AIDS discrimination may be considered discrimination against a disability according to the law

 

10:53 AM Q12) Have you seen an increase in people requesting public housing?

 

10:54 AM A12) For more information about this, please visit hud.gov/pih

 

10:56 AM After 41 years of law, housing discrimination still persists. I encourage people to check out hud.gov/fheo, or call 1-800-669-9777.

 
10:57 AM @NAMIMass There has always been a public housing shortage in MA. Housing is the hardest need to fulfill for the mentally ill
 

10:58 AM in reply to @NAMIMass Many thought the work was over in ’88 when we expanded the Fair Housing law to protect ppl with disabilities but we need more work

 
10:58 AM @NAMIMass NAMI is a valuable leader in the effort!
 

10:59 AM And so is Matt Rosenthal of PREVENT HATE. Thank you! — End chat.

 
11:01 AM PREVENT HATE sincerely thanks Asst. Secretary Trasvina of Fair Housing at HUD for his time, wisdom, and dedication, and for this chat.

Should the homeless become a protected category for hate crimes legislation?

The debate is raging whether crimes targeting homeless people should be considered hate crimes. And now it appears that the County of Los Angeles has decided that the answer is yes, at least where statistical collection is concerned.
 
Currently, more than half of the states in the USA have hate crimes statutes of some type. The United States government also has a federal hate crimes law, plus they have empowered the FBI to collect hate crimes statistics from law enforcement agencies throughout the USA (although not crimes motivated by bias against women — for more information, see PREVENT HATE Exclusive: The FBI’s Hate Crimes Report Ignores Crimes Against Women) Yet, of all the laws we have, only three municipalities include being homeless into their hate crimes statutes: Seattle, Maine, and Alaska. Is Los Angeles on its way toward inclusion in this small, but potentially growing group?
 
The County of Los Angeles has decided to begin tracking crimes against homeless people as if they are hate crimes, although they have not (yet?) moved toward legislation. For now, due to an escalated level of criminal activity against homeless people, and in light that homelessness will increase in these tough economic times, they have asked for agencies to consider anti-homeless crimes to be hate crimes, and to begin to collect data on them.
 
According to the Los Angeles Times:
 
During the last year, the homeless in Los Angeles County have been set on fire, stabbed, shot and beaten with baseball bats in attacks. Advocates for the homeless say the incidents have become more violent but until now no one has tracked such crimes countywide.

Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously recommended that sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors and the county Human Relations Commission start tracking and reporting attacks on the homeless as hate crimes. The vote came as the economy worsens and the number of homeless in the county increases — with some shelters seeing four times as many people seeking help this winter.

 

Advocates for the homeless called the collection of such data a first step in changing policy and laws. They cite several high-profile incidents in the last year as cause for alarm.
 
The supervisors’ move does not change the law, a shift that would be necessary for crimes against the homeless to carry enhanced penalties.

Efforts to add the homeless to the state’s hate crime law have failed in the past.

So far only one city and two states have passed such legislation: Seattle, Maine and Alaska, according to the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit National Coalition for the Homeless.

Local legislation is pending in 10 states and Washington, D.C., coalition officials said.

Prevent Hate has been part of the conversations between advocates for the homeless and human relations professionals about whether being targeted for crimes because one is homeless should be categorized as a hate crime. Time and again, the same issues keep coming up. First of all, everyone agrees that targeting a homeless person for crime is particularly horrible, but is it a hate crime? Or does it deserve its own categorization?
 
Well, before we make that decision, we need to delve into the ever-presence of … you got it … political considerations … Come on, you didn’t think this problem could be solved without adding politics into it, did you?
 
Unfortunately, hate crimes laws are delegitimized by people who consider them the legislation of “thought crimes,” and hence, think there should be no hate crimes laws at all. I disagree with this. Hate crimes speak directly to motive, and I have no problem adding extra penalties onto crimes whose intention is to disrupt society through fear. I really don’t see why that’s so hard to understand. For the perpetrator of a hate crime, a victim is not just a victim whose suffering is contained to the incident. A victim is a first domino whose suffering is meant to spread throughout entire segments of society, and eventually break it down. So yeah, smack some extra social responsibility onto the perpetrators’ sentences as part of a comprehensive system to create more inclusive communities. As long as there are some “carrots” to go along with the “stick,” when crafting public policy, then go for it.
 
(Then again, do we really want to send more people into a prison system in dire need of reform when they could actually come out a bigger threat to public safety? What do you do when your protective safety valve does the job opposite of what its meant to do?)
 
See also: Prevent Hate’s Recommendations for Prison Reform
 
Nevertheless, there are quite a number of things to consider before determining whether being homeless should get the same categorization as other protected groups.
 
Advocates for the homeless will tell you that being homeless is a category that often becomes part-and-parcel of a lifestyle, similar to religion, and that therefore, it deserves the same protections. Clearly homeless people are targeted because of what they are, not what they have done, which is the very essence of a hate crime, so their argument is logical. But then again, what if someone is targeted just for being fat? Or just for being ugly? It happens. Technically, they are hate crimes. People hate them … fell prejudiced against them, and discriminate. But do they deserve inclusion in hate crimes laws? Advocates for homeless people say they are on the right track because targeting the homeless for crime is on the increase and is now a relevant social phenomenon.
 
Conversely, advocates against including homeless people into hate crimes categorization say that doing so muddies the waters and opens the doors to get rid of such laws altogether by feeding many of the existing arguments already in place against having hate crimes laws. The argument goes that, although well intentioned, the result will not be increased protections for homeless people, but rather, lessened protections for the groups already included in hate crimes legislation. Therefore, they believe crimes against homeless people should have their own protected category, standing on its own.
 
For more information about hate crimes laws in the United States, please go to: